A common workplace team building exercise for adults involves somebody falling back into the arms of a waiting colleague. The idea is that the person falling puts their safety in the catcher’s hands and their faith in the other person’s ability and desire to catch them. It’s a fairly uncreative way to build a team and I do wonder what sort of workplace has employees that won’t catch each other under such controlled conditions! But it is a stark example of what trust, at its most primitive, looks like.
One of Little j’s favourite games at the moment is to a stand on our (floor level!) window ledge in our lounge and fall backwards into my arms. He doesn’t think about whether or not I’m going to be there. There is no doubt in his mind at all. He completely trusts me. In all aspects of his life.
I’ve been thinking a lot about trust this week. To have somebody’s trust is such a responsibility. A baby completely trusts their parents and sustaining this trust through Little J’s childhood and beyond feels like a top priority in terms of our relationship. I need to respect him and understand that, for him, the little things as well as the big things are important. I want him to believe that if he needs me in the night I’ll be there, or if I leave him somewhere or with someone that I’ll always come back. Similarly if he opens his mouth for a spoonful of peas, he’ll get peas and not the carrots I’ve hidden on the other spoon!
To be so completely trusted is not just a responsibility it is another gift of parenting. After the initial adjustment to the shock of newborn fragility, the more I see Little J’s trust in me the more I trust myself. My confidence is growing all the time as my parenting style is become more defined. I am getting better at recognising my instincts and not doubting myself. I want to parent with fairness and kindness; love, fun and patience and I am becoming increasingly proud of that ambition. Little J trusts me and actually, right now, I think he should.
Of course Little J won’t always trust me in quite the same way as he does now. And things, small things sometimes, will happen that will cause him to doubt me and will start to erode his unquestioning trust. Perhaps, as well, he will just become older and more aware of his own self and the possible dangers facing him. As the rest of the world starts to play a larger role in his everyday reality perhaps he’ll realise that he can’t (and doesn’t need to) trust anyone as completely as he did when life was just about him and me.
And maybe he will always hope that his mother or father will catch him, but he’ll start at some point to realise that his parents are just human and flawed and ordinary….it is not that we don’t want to catch him, it is that we might miss sometimes.